Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

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KCMax
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Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by KCMax » Tue Oct 04, 2011 1:00 pm

Interesting premise.

How sprawl is like Bernie Madoff
Sprawl development, says my analyst friend Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns, is basically a Ponzi scheme of its own. Municipalities chase tax revenues by extending infrastructure to accommodate new taxpayers. They borrow money to pay for the infrastructure. But, in order to repay their creditors, they need still more revenue, prompting them to chase more development, requiring yet more infrastructure, perpetuating the obligations.
How Suburban Sprawl Works Like a Ponzi Scheme
The authors then recommend a number of specific strategies:

A stop to infrastructure projects that expand a community’s long-term maintenance obligations.
A full accounting of all short and long-term financial obligations local governments have assumed for maintaining infrastructure.
The adoption of strategies to improve the public’s return on investment and improve the use of existing infrastructure.
Large-scale changes in local zoning regulations to streamline approval processes and provide the necessary regulatory flexibility within existing neighborhoods.
Significant changes in the standard engineering approach to road and street design, shifting emphasis away from increasing automobile-oriented mobility and toward increasing pedestrian mobility within neighborhoods while eliminating accesses and intersections along auto corridors.

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by FangKC » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:08 pm

Article points out the absurd street designs used in urban sprawn in suburban neighborhoods.

Two houses in surburban Orlando that share a backyard are separated by 7 miles of road. To get from Anna Catherine Drive from Summer Rain Drive, where houses are back-to-back, you have to drive 7 miles of street.

http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/02/28/sp ... -of-roads/

Image

Here is a close-up aerial of the the homes on Google Maps.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Waterfor ... 32828&z=19

Zooming out, we can see in these neighborhoods that residents have to drive extended mileage just to reach the interstate highway, where using a traditional street grid would reduce that travel. In fact, the design of the entire subdivision requires excessive travel just to leave the neighborhood and get to an arterial street. In some cases, it appears one could travel twice the distance necessary just to reach shopping, services, schools, and jobs as compared with a traditional street grid. One can also see people driving aimlessly and lost trying to simply find someone's house. This is especially true if one made just one wrong turn and ended up driving a great distance just to end up opposite where one should be.

https://maps.google.com/maps?q=Waterfor ... 32828&z=14

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by aknowledgeableperson » Sat Mar 02, 2013 4:40 pm

It is kinda of a crazy setup but it looks like two different developments. The one on the left appears to be built around a golf course which itself will cause some crazy layout of streets. It does appear the development on the right is separate from the other. The layout of the bodies of water would also affect the street grid. It would appear easy to make a connector street between the two but I could see a concern about traffic on those neighborhood streets. Plus the elimination of a few lots.

My guess the developments occurred years apart with no concern about connector streets.

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by chaglang » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:47 pm

aknowledgeableperson wrote:It is kinda of a crazy setup but it looks like two different developments. The one on the left appears to be built around a golf course which itself will cause some crazy layout of streets. It does appear the development on the right is separate from the other. The layout of the bodies of water would also affect the street grid. It would appear easy to make a connector street between the two but I could see a concern about traffic on those neighborhood streets. Plus the elimination of a few lots.

My guess the developments occurred years apart with no concern about connector streets.
Yes, clearly they were worried about the efficiency of their lot layout. :roll:

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by FangKC » Sun Mar 03, 2013 1:00 am

The other consideration is the time it takes for ambulance, fire, and police to navigate those meandering streets getting to one's house.

This type of street design makes it virtually impossible to simply walk somewhere without having to travel an unnecessarily long distance. Kids walking to a friends' house for example.

I hate having to travel around these types of neighborhoods.

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by phxcat » Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:20 pm

As an ex-pizza delivery driver, I wonder if people get upset when their pizza is late. I could see looking at the address and expecting to be able to get through and ending up delivering the pizza 15 minutes late. This is nowhere near as big of a deal as emergency vehicles, but there would be so many stupid issues that living in a neighborhood like this would cause, but I guess that people who find this type of neighborhood attractive have different values than most of the people on this forum do. I am annoyed that I have to walk an extra two blocks out of my way either south or west to get out of the neighborhood and walk to the store, when they could have extended my straight street to the arteriole road that would otherwise be one block away.

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by loftguy » Sun Mar 03, 2013 4:20 pm

Waaay back when, I spoke with an old farmer, who's land had become a big chunk of Overland Park, east of 95th and 69 highway.

Those streets are relatively sane, compared to what has been pointed out, but his observation was that the planners were all drunkards, that there was no other explanation for their layout.

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by FangKC » Sun Mar 03, 2013 11:14 pm

LOL Loftguy. Good story.

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by aknowledgeableperson » Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:19 am

"It may make sense to allow $5M-$10M+ incentives of some form to discourage future maintenance costs of sprawl."

" If we took this same thinking and applied property taxation that reflects actual costs, greenfield development would become much more selective, no?"

These are quotes from another topic. Thought the discussion would work better here.

Just wondering how this would discourage sprawl? It's not working now. People are going to develop because that is what they do. Develop. For whatever reason some develop in urban areas, some develop in suburban areas, and some in both. They develop because they see an opportunity to make money.

And taxes. People say taxes are higher in Kansas but people still moved there. Why? Because that is where they wanted to live.

There are many bad things (along with good) about using incentives. One, with regards to TIF's is they never seem to expire. How many have expired in KC after raising the funds to pay back for original construction? How many are still in existence after raising funds for the original construction?

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by chaglang » Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:10 am

aknowledgeableperson wrote:"It may make sense to allow $5M-$10M+ incentives of some form to discourage future maintenance costs of sprawl."

" If we took this same thinking and applied property taxation that reflects actual costs, greenfield development would become much more selective, no?"

These are quotes from another topic. Thought the discussion would work better here.

Just wondering how this would discourage sprawl? It's not working now. People are going to develop because that is what they do. Develop. For whatever reason some develop in urban areas, some develop in suburban areas, and some in both. They develop because they see an opportunity to make money.

And taxes. People say taxes are higher in Kansas but people still moved there. Why? Because that is where they wanted to live.

There are many bad things (along with good) about using incentives. One, with regards to TIF's is they never seem to expire. How many have expired in KC after raising the funds to pay back for original construction? How many are still in existence after raising funds for the original construction?
People like to make money. They're usually not particular how. Development, particularly suburban development, is heavily incentivized. If development in other places were as incentivized (and the true costs hidden), that's "just what people would do".

You know that the "people just wanted to live there" argument is far, far, far more complex than Jim and Cathy Suburbanite just picking up and leaving the city.

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by aknowledgeableperson » Tue Mar 25, 2014 5:19 pm

I know it is complex but people will live where taxes are higher, just to counter the tax argument.

One can argue the subsidy all different kinds of ways. But the Sprint Center, Bartle Hall, and the city's CVB do benefit from the hotel taxes generated from facilities that are outside of thecity's core. Let's say the KCMO did not annex those areas and the areas either incorporated themselves or were annexed by other cities those taxes would not be flowing to KCMO to help subsidize those downtown facilities.

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by FangKC » Fri May 30, 2014 7:44 pm


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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by FangKC » Tue Oct 15, 2019 4:51 am

The great suburban Ponzi infrastructure experiment
...
He dove into more research, calculating how long it would take municipalities to pay back, with tax revenues, infrastructure projects that he was familiar with. What he found shocked him. “I subsequently modeled dozens of residential developments—urban, suburban, exurban, and rural—and I could not find one that came close to covering their own basic expenses, let alone the collector roads, traffic signals, bridges, interchanges, and other communal expenses those revenue streams were expected to support. Not one.”

This led him to the conclusion that modern municipal growth is a Ponzi scheme of sorts, which is one of the foundational ideas of Strong Towns, the organization. “New growth provides local governments an opportunity to receive additional cash in the short term in exchange for taking on unpayable, long-term liabilities,” he writes.
...
https://www.cnu.org/publicsquare/2019/1 ... experiment

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Re: Suburban sprawl is a Ponzi scheme

Post by brewcrew1000 » Mon Oct 21, 2019 10:47 pm

This mall has got to be the scam of scams and one of the biggest sprawl projects in the US. The name is kind of funny and will be even funnier when the place is dying in 10 years- I can't believe this project actually got built

I know it's next to a bunch of stadiums and other shit but give me a break, the meadowlands should be a great suburban sprawl case study if everything ends up failing

Wonder how many billions has been wasted by the state in the meadowlands when that money could have been used to fix the horrible rail lines in New Jersey and other infrastructure projects like bridges

https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/20/us/giant ... index.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/America ... eadowlands

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